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By Lucy Rector Flippu
Parents can have a profound influence over how their kids react to different cultures and ethnicities. Teaching tolerance is an ongoing process as kids develop and have new experiences. Parents have the ability to nurture acceptance in children by recognizing that “usually right underneath an intolerance is a little vulnerable area where they are frightened or scared or misinformed,” says Patty Wipfler, founding director of Hand in Hand, a nonprofit parent leadership institute. These six practices can help you establish an open dialogue with your child.
Do a Self-Checkup
Accept (and Celebrate) Differences
Expose Your Child to Variety
Address Prejudicial Language
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Read Diverse Literature
There is a wealth of children's literature that addresses multicultural and tolerance themes, and reading a book is the great way to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. For the younger kids, try Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, The Cow That Went OINK by Bernard Most, or The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard or William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow are good choices for slightly older kids. Use these books as springboards for conversation, discussing the characters, art, and other customs that are presented.
Ultimately, overcoming prejudice requires that we experience our surroundings with an open mind, compassion, and an extended hand. Your kid will look to you for guidance. Prejudice isn’t inherent, it’s learned. And so is tolerance.
Looking for ways to celebrate different cultures with your kid? Check out these activities.